When disaster strikes, collaboration is vital in helping to activate an effective response and recovery.
By Movashan Moodley, Senior Consultant: Advisory Services, at ContinuitySA.
When an organisation is in the throes of a crisis of any kind, the ability of its business continuity team to collaborate with each other and the rest of the staff is a critical success factor in mounting an effective response, and ultimately recovering. However, truly effective collaboration can’t just be activated at will—to build resilience into the organisation, collaboration should be addressed as a strategic initiative and embedded into the way the business continuity and other teams work during business as usual.
Effective collaboration should be woven into the fabric of the daily work environment. This means that it should be regular and contain information about things that matter. It’s worth noting that it cannot be forced.
During a disaster or crisis, the need for collaboration is heightened, and a team that is well versed in collaboration is by nature more creative and more likely to generate innovative solutions on the fly.
Successful collaboration depends establishing clear roles and responsibilities, a willingness to take everybody’s views on board, and a cooperative approach to identifying and addressed problems. A collaborative team places group goals above personal goals, and demonstrates a willingness to apologise for—and forgive—mistakes.
Successful collaboration requires these key skills:
- Communication. Getting one’s point across effectively is often difficult. Paying attention to verbal and nonverbal cues, and then learning to speak directly to the issue at hand is a vitally important skill. Team members must feel free to share their perspective on an issue without anybody trying to impose a particular viewpoint.
- Emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (or EQ) is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after soft skills in the workplace. Those with strong emotional intelligence can understand the “hidden” needs of others. For example, individuals with EQ can see beyond issues such as laziness or stubbornness to an underlying problem that everyone can work together to address.
- Respect for diversity. The digital revolution is enabling closer integration between economies across the globe. As more and more companies do business overseas, team members who can relate to—and thus collaborate with—people of diverse backgrounds and cultures are becoming real assets. Respect for diversity does not mean that people must subordinate their own convictions, but rather that everyone respects each other’s perspectives as being equal. All voices matter, and each team member has to be sensitive to behaviours or decisions that could be subtle forms of discrimination against a certain group of people.
These skills underpin the three building blocks of collaboration:
- Cooperation, based on an environment of engagement, trust, and teamwork in which individuals and teams feel empowered to help each other. In such an environment, teams are empowered to explore new ways of working.
- Communication, spanning informal channels to forums and support networks, with compelling content and ways to make it easy to capture and spread ideas.
- Coordination to provide enough structure and training and management to ensure that the collaboration space where you are building up your knowledge base is easy to navigate, use and reuse.